Mikel Arteta insists summer signing Willian is improving despite the Brazilian being outshone by Arsenal’s youngsters yet again.
Selected to start the Gunners FA Cup 3rd round tie with Newcastle in the number 10 role, the 32-year-old produced another distinctly underwhelming performance before being replaced by Bukayo Saka on 66 minutes.
Willian is yet to score for Arsenal since joining on a free transfer and has only one assist in the last three months.
“I think he was improving and improving,” said Arteta when asked about the player’s form in his post-game press conference.
“The other day he came on really well against West Brom. He’s been out as well because he was ill, so he’s missed almost two weeks of training and football.
“Today was the first time that he started the game. He had some good moments and he had some other moments that he needed more help sometimes, and some decisions weren’t the best. But we’re going to keep trying with him.
“He shows in training how much he wants it, he had some highlights in the game and it’s about keeping the confidence in him. We know the player he is.”
He added: “I think when the team is winning it’s easier [to keep his confidence up] because there is more time to do that process.
“He needs to build the relationship with some players. Today he played in a slightly different position as well. We’ll get there.”
Arteta and Edu signed off on a three-year deal for Willian which sees him earn £220,000 a week. He was supposed to bring experience, leadership and quality to a side hoping to close the gap on the top four. He’s not ticked any of those boxes so far.